They are particularly intelligent pets, with a trustworthy and willing-to-please nature making them equally well-suited as a family pet or a working dog in support and detection roles. They are particularly good with the vulnerable, making then capable of being trained as support dogs for less able-bodied adults and children. They make great rescue dogs, and their keenness to do well and please their owners makes them particularly good sniffer dogs for detecting illicit substances or tracking, and they excel at obedience competitions! 

The breed adores water, having been initially bred to serve as gun dogs in marshland. Many attribute the breed’s creation to Lord Tweedmouth in the mid-1800s.

A good choice for a first-time owner due to their nature, they remain playful and affectionate throughout their lives, but are known to suffer from separation anxiety if left to their own devices for too long. As a social dog, their favourite place is by your side.

You will need a good-sized garden and easy access to large open spaces as the Golden Retriever is a particularly active and playful dog and will need to be kept physically and mentally busy to keep them happy.

Pet profile

A wonderfully friendly, affectionate and intelligent dog, perfect as a family or companion pet.

  • Size: Large; 51-61cm at the withers.
  • Weight: 25-34kg
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years


Exercise and nutrition

As a breed with particularly high energy levels, the Golden will need at least 2 hours of exercise a day in order to stay healthy. As they are easy to train, and are retrievers by instinct, they love endless games of fetch which is a great way to give them additional exercise.

Golden Retrievers also love their food, and so portion control is important. If allowed to, these dogs will pack on the pounds!

As with all pure breed dogs, it’s best to follow the feeding schedule advised by the breeder of your new puppy as well as continuing to feed them the type of food they are used to.  As they grow and you need to adjust their feeding pattern and food type make any changes gradually, introducing a little more of the new food at each meal to avoid stomach upsets. 

Goldens should be fed a good quality, well balanced diet to suit their age and ideally, they need low-calorie treats to help keep their weight down as they have great appetites!

Common health problems and illnesses 

Goldens are usually robust and healthy. However, as with many pure-bred dogs, they can be prone to some genetic disorders and conditions. It’s a good idea to take our pet insurance as soon as you get your puppy so that you maximise the cover you have before any conditions can reveal themselves. You could also consider opting for an insurer who covers hereditary and congenital disorders too. Take our look at our compare dog insurance page to learn more about the options available. 

Hip dysplasia occurs when the dog has a pre-disposition to their hip joint developing abnormally early in life. This genetic pre-disposition causes the soft-tissue that would normally stabilise the joint to become loose and weak. The ball of the femur can then become deformed as the puppy grows, flattening as the socket becomes rounder. Affected dogs will usually have dysplasia of both hips, and all dogs with dysplasia also develop secondary osteoarthritis of the joint.

While the condition is primarily caused by genetics, it is not a congenital disorder as puppies are usually born with normal hips. Obesity in young pups will make it more likely to occur in a dog with a genetic pre-disposition to the condition.

Owners watching out for this condition should look for stiffness in the hips, a dislike of exercise, limping in the hind legs, problems with stairs, and difficulty standing and lying down. It is normally diagnosed in puppies who are between 6 and 12 months old.

There are a variety of treatment options for this condition, depending on the severity. Rehabilitation and physical therapy can help, supplemented by medication and exercise restrictions. For more advanced cases, there are a variety of surgical options available.

Please consult your vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan if you believe your dog suffers from this condition.

PRA is an inherited condition that affects the retina of the eye. The rod cells within the retina progressively fail and die as this condition progresses, causing a severe reduction in the dog’s ability to see, particularly in the dark. Symptoms to watch out are night-blindness and dilated pupils; an increased glow of the eyes in the dark can be an early sign something is wrong. As the condition develops, the sight of the affected dog will progressively deteriorate and they can become blind within a year of diagnosis. While the condition cannot be “cured”, there is the possibility of prevention by supplying anti-oxidants to the sufferer. This treatment can effectively halt or slow the degenerative process, leading to a better quality of life.

Please consult your vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan if you think your dog’s sight might be deteriorating.

This condition is a particularly rare one, thankfully, but some breeds, including the Golden Retriever are more prone to it than others. It occurs most often in female dogs where the ureters that carry urine from the kidneys do not connect with the bladder correctly resulting in incontinence. Male dogs can have the problem but usually it results in a smaller opening into the bladder resulting in infections and difficulty urinating. As it is an inherited disorder, the signs to watch out for in a female dog from birth will include constant incontinence and possibly an inflamed vagina as the tissues are irritated by urine. In male dogs you might see the dog straining to wee and blood in their urine.

This condition is diagnosed by several tests including X-rays, a urethrocystoscopy, and a test of urethral pressure.
Once diagnosed, this condition needs to be surgically corrected, after which incontinence may persist due to the impact of the surgery and the congenital defect.

Please consult your vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan if you believe your puppy might be suffering from this condition.

Fun facts

  • Golden Retrievers were initially bred in Scotland in the mid-1800s and crossed with the Water Spaniel to create a fabulous game retriever that loved working in marshland.
  • Goldens have been owned by two US Presidents - Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan!
  • Goldens have two layers of coat - their topcoat is water resistant, while their undercoat keeps them warm.
  • A Golden Retriever, Augie, holds the world record for “most tennis balls held in mouth”, at 5!
  • As excellent working dogs, their keen sense of smell makes them ideal for drug and explosive detection duties with the police force.

Golden Retriever